Groucho Marx once quipped: “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me as a member.”
Human nature encompasses a wide range of perversities, each of which has its own range of intensity. One of the more common of these perversities is the predilection for deliberately sabotaging ourselves by assuring that we can never have what we want most.
Of all the things age has taken from me, one that I most deeply resent is the loss of the chance for true, romantic love: for having one individual whom I can adore on all levels, and who would adore me in the same way. I have no doubt that I could find someone my own age who might love me in this way, but the fact is that I could not return it, since I can’t conceive of loving someone my own age. Perversity, anyone?
To this day, despite the futility, I still occasionally fall in love, but it is always from a distance and never…can never…be requited. It’s sort of like wanting so terribly to sit down to a huge plate of fried-crisp pork chops, mashed potatoes, and gravy and eating everything on the plate in one sitting: I want it with an intensity difficult to describe, and I would give anything if I could have it, but I can’t.
I’ve often told the stories of a friend whose romantic focus was on young men between 18 and 21. He ached for them, and loved them deeply, and had many in his life. But as soon as the object of his affection neared 21, he lost interest and moved on to the next.
One of my best friends of my life was rock-solid in his beliefs and convictions. He brooked no nonsense from anyone. He was the poster boy for self discipline, and was, to those who did not know him as I did, quite intimidating. He never had a relationship, though he badly wanted one. His problem was that he wanted someone stronger than himself, and yet if anyone tried to be, he would tell them where to go in no uncertain terms and walk off.
It is only natural for one human being, regardless of sexual orientation or other real and imagined limitations, to want to feel wanted, and loved, and special. It’s far easier for heterosexuals to do this, since ours is a heterosexual-dominated species. Gays, and especially gay men, have a far harder time with this since we are even more prone than the heterosexual population to seek youth and beauty. The struggle for gay marriage is just one example that gays and lesbians need the same social protections that heterosexuals have always simply assumed was their birthright.
And so, as for myself and millions more like me, the search for requited love grows less realistic with every passing moment. Like most of those in my position, I deal with it. And I look at all the beautiful young men passing me on the street, to whom I am invisible, and think of Echo, the nymph who so loved Narcissus that, when her love went unrequited, she faded away until only her voice was left.
And the ultimate irony is that those same beautiful young people to whom the aging are invisible have absolutely no idea that, unless they are lucky enough to find someone with whom to grow old, they will be in exactly the same position as I. There is no comfort in the thought.
In my friend Norm’s final weeks, I would visit him and he would reach out and take my hand. We once had the kind of love I wish I could still have, but we were now less than partners, more than friends. I hope holding his hand gave him some comfort; some sense that he was not alone.
But the wonder is that, even as the darkness of the long night approaches and the cold, harsh wind of reality blows ever stronger, there is within me and within everyone still a tiny, glowing spark of hope around which we wrap ourselves and find comfort in its warmth.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: